Mom was born in April 1941. She grew up in a small rural
area, went to school with children she had known all her
life-half of them related. She was married at age 17. She
had three children between September, 1959 and March, 1962.
Soon after she had her third child, she was diagnosed with Multiple
Sclerosis. She wouldn't turn 21 until one month later.
It was devastating news for her. Very little was known about
MS back then. She thought she was going to die. Mom didn't
die though. In fact, according to her doctor, she probably
broke records. She was in remission for the majority of her
life suffering short exacerbations periodically with symptoms
of blurred vision, numbness in her limbs, and problems with
Her children always were aware of her MS.
I guess she told us when we were very young. I remember when
I was a teen, Mom told me how embarassing it was when she
would walk in public and stumble or weave when she lost her
balance. I told her not to worry, we would be "drunk" together.
I linked my arm with hers and we "weaved" and staggered our
way through the shopping mall giggling like the friends we
I always thought my Mom was so beautiful. She was so
much younger than all my friends' moms. And she had beautiful
long auburn hair that waved around her face to her shoulders.
The MS didn't start to get bad until I was in my late teens.
The exacerbations came closer together and would last longer.
A couple times she had to be admitted to the hospital for
steroid treatments. By this time, my brother, sister and I
had all moved away and had families of our own. Brother
moved to the southwest, but sis and I stayed near Mom.
the time of Mom's 50th birthday, we noticed her memory was
getting bad. One day she drove to the mall and couldn't
remember how to get home. My sister and I had to go get her.
Mom cried. She was so embarassed.
Tests revealed the MS had
begun to work on the nerves in Mom's brain. She was suffering
from premature senility. We asked her to quit
driving and she did. Her legs were getting too unresponsive,
her eyes would blur with no warning, and her memory...
a quick downhill slide after that. We had to put her in a
nursing facility after a serious fall. She was pronounced
"terminal" about three months later and died soon after. She
was fifty-one years old. She died exactly one week before my 33rd birthday.
She suffered so much those last months and I'm glad she's at
peace now. But I miss her. Still.